The Foul King(2000) - Kim Jee-Woon

The Foul King is a Korean pro wrestling movie that feels something like Adam Sandler adapting Fight Club. The Foul King is the breakout for both director Kim Jee-Woon and actor Song Kang-ho. It’s easy to see why they both became so successful, and why they have worked together so much. Song Kang-ho is totally charismatic and he uses his charisma in interesting ways. He tends to play less than admirable, selfish, and frequently stupid characters but never comes off as irritating or cruel. In The Foul King, he becomes a wrestler who specializes in cheating, a role that seems tailor-made for Song. The Foul King is a little awkward and uneven, but it’s clear that there is a lot of talent here waiting to be refined. Kim Jee-Woon uses the camera in really interesting and innovative ways. There is one moment where the camera transitions from a POV shot to a shot following the same character to great comedic effect. I am not really a pro wrestling fan, but the wrestling scenes in this movie are a blast. Kim makes excellent use of the inertia inherent in pro wrestling moves and crafts some really fun kinetic brawls. It’s not perfect, and the ending makes it feel more like a TV show than a movie, but I laughed harder during The Foul King than I have in a long time.

Bryan E. West
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